For the past few years ASDA in Brighton Marina has offered 3 hours of free parking in their car park, apparently regardless of whether or not you were a customer.
It appears the rules have recently changed.
This is only from memory, as unfortunately I did not have a camera with me to take a photo of the new signboards.
It seems that the parking is now for customers only … in line with many other business. There is also a specific list of offences for which a fine may be imposed.
Significantly, there did not seem to be a specific time limit stated on the boards.
Risk of Unfair Fines?
The problem with the rules not being clearly defined is that it leaves too much discretion in the hands of the company that enforces parking restrictions on ASDA’s site. Just like ticket inspectors on trains, parking enforcers do not have a great reputation for fairness and appropriate application of discretion.
The risks I can see here are:
- Without a defined time limit, customers do not know how long they are allowed to stay. The parking company is then at liberty to interpret how long constitutes an unreasonable amount of time to stay, i.e. they can make it up as they go along.
- It is not uncommon – or unreasonable – for people to combine a shopping trip to ASDA with another activity, e.g. a purchase in a nearby shop, or a light bite to eat in one of the Marina’s eateries. But if you do this, it seems likely that you are technically breaching the rules. Strictly speaking, being a customer at ASDA starts when you enter the store and ends when you leave it. When you head off to pursue the other activity, you are not actually giving ASDA your custom at that time.
In either of the above situations you could end up with a fine if you are unlucky enough to be monitored by one of the more mean-spirited enforcers … or a greedy one, if they have an incentive plan.
What To Do If You Get a Fine
There are several steps you can take if you get a fine that you feel is unfair:
- In the first instance, complain to the in-store customer services. If you show them your receipt and explain that you are a genuine customer, they may be able to cancel the charge or pay you the equivalent sum so that you are not out of pocket. Supermarket do not want genuine customers leaving their store unhappy. ASDA is no exception, so I’m sure they will be keen to help.
- If customer services cannot help, try emailing the CEO. You can find email addresses for CEOs at: http://www.ceoemail.com/
- Appeal the fine. Money Saving Expert has some tips on appealing unfair parking fines.